By some miracle, this year I have managed to read 60 books (I’m on my 60th as we speak and am gunning to get it finished before the New Year). I’m both impressed but not surprised that I managed 60 books this year. While I wrote a dissertation, graduated from university, started working and edited a newspaper at various points throughout the year, I also travelled for four weeks, had surgery and spent a large portion of time horizontal – I think they all balanced each other out. Rather than going through the entire list, this blog just highlights a few of my favourite reads from 2017.
In cased you missed it, Animal by Sara Pascoe was my favourite non-fiction read of the year. It’s funny, informative, heartfelt, dark and full of discussions of female sexuality. Can’t recommend it enough. I run through all my 2017 non-fiction reads in my last blog.
I read Lolita this year and despite all its disturbing subject matter, it was a really beautiful book. I can’t pick it as my favourite though because that will only trigger yet another existential crisis about the difference between art and artist (of which 2017 has caused MANY). So with that in mind I’m going to pick Don Casmurro, which I read in Brazil, where the book is set and the writer, Machado de Assis, is from. I wasn’t really paying attention when I started reading it and it caught me off guard. One minute I was just having a read and the next I was totally transformed and hooked and weighed down by futility of the human condition (uhoh, another existential crisis is looming). I don’t have much experience with jealousy, but this book made me feel it in a really powerful way.
I’ve read a fair old amount of plays this year, both for my degree at the beginning of the year and for fun at the end. While Fleabag, the Vagina Monologues, and Tigerish Waters all blew me away with their own unique style, nothing has inspired me more this year than David Ive’s Venus in Fur. I was introduced to the book, play and film by a class and a brilliant lecturer. I wrote an assignment on it, which I did well in, only increasing my infatuation. Then, once I was freelance writer, Natalie Dormer only went and starred in the damn thing and I reviewed it at work. So not only do I have a lot of professional and academic interest in this play, I bloody love the thing too. I’m not sure my year would have been the same without it.
Ooh this is so hard to pick because I loved vN so much, and loved writing about it even more, but for the second year running I’m going to have to give it to Chris Beckett. The final instalment of the Dark Eden series, Daughter of Eden, is the only book this year to literally make my jaw drop. Seriously, whether you’re into sci-fi or not, I cannot recommend this series enough.
Favourite Contemporary Novel
This one goes to the most transformative novel I read this year, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This books picks you up and takes you from country to country, city to city, articulates a diaspora I may never myself experience and compels understanding. I’ve got some Adiche on the TBR shelf and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
This one goes to the play that made me choke with laughter in bed – Fleabag. I wasn’t sure the humour would hit me given I’d already seen the BBC series, but nope, it got me good.
Favourite Children’s Book
I’ve re-read some of the Potter books this year but I’m excluding them from this… which leaves me with one children’s book. Good job I loved it. The Journey to River Sea was as enchanting as everyone said it was. A real adventure story in an already adventurous environment.
Favourite Mixed-Genre Book
Favourite Self-Published Book
Does it count that I read my own book again this year if it’s limited circulation of self-publication is to me and me alone? Didn’t think so. In which case it goes to Richard Hopkin’s The Cincinnati Tin Trunk – a historical treasure hunt across America and Europe.
Favourite Book in French
Despite having read Rebecca in French this year and my favourite Annie Ernaux, I’m going to give this category to the Harry Potter books I’ve read in French this year. It has been nothing but a delight having an already loved world transformed into another loved world and language.
I do have a problem here though, the edition I’ve been reading seems to have been discontinued, meaning if I want to read them quickly I’m either going to have a mix matched collection or to pay waaay more than I can afford. Bookish people, help, what do I do in this situation?
Hilary’s Favourite Novel of 2017
Last but not least is Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. I love Rebecca so I was ready to love this one, but I got so much more than I bargained for. I just feel that the book was ahead of its time in lots of ways which made an already compelling book a delight to read. I wish I’d known about it a year ago, it could have been a really interesting addition to my dissertation.
For full pictures of my 2017 reads head over to my Instagram: FictitiouslyHilary.